Digital marketing continues to evolve — not only year to year, but month to month. Marketers understand the art and science of adapting to change, but staying proactive on forecasts and trends reduces potential disruption and stress.
Let’s review 12 digital marketing trends you should consider in 2022.
1. Refocus and restrategize your marketing strategy
Digital marketers understand the many tactics in a marketing strategy. You’ll see content marketing, inbound marketing, social media, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, email marketing, among many others in an overall strategy. You may feel compelled to tackle every area, but you know how the phrase goes, “A jack of all trades is a master of none.”
If you’re part of a small team, or a team of one, it’s important to focus your strategy and do a few things well, rather than a lot simply “fine.” Once you’ve perfected a few tactics, revisiting periodically to make adjustments as the industry rapidly evolves, choose a few new areas to focus on.
2. Search engine optimization (SEO) is still a priority
Like many areas in the digital universe, search engines and search engine optimization have evolved. Gone are the days when you could work to outsmart the system with different hacks to rank content on the first page. Remember keyword stuffing? Ugh.
These early SEO hacks are ineffective, if not detrimental, to your website performance today. Like keyword stuffing, writing for bots and link schemes will not improve content rankings — they actually penalize your website performance. Today, can you imagine trying to read a blog on a topic you’re interested in, only to re-read a paragraph multiple times because the keyword appeared in seven different places illogically over two sentences? No thank you.
Search engine algorithms are smarter than ever. They prioritize high-quality content for people — not bots. Avoid attempting to out-smart the system — develop content aimed to answer your customer’s questions and improve their experiences with your brand.
3. Influencers are here to stay — and growing in importance to marketers
Today, consumers heavily weigh reviews in their purchasing decisions. We see it on many channels and likely in our own lives. Social media influencers create a personal brand, specializing in one or a few areas, and provide knowledge and expertise to their following. How does this relate to marketing? Authentic and reliable reviews, improvements in brand awareness and conversion, and increased engagement.
In 2022, projections expect brands to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing. Digital marketers should explore influencers in their industry with a variety of, well, influence in different channels. You’ll see different influencers on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram and with varying sized followings. Recent data shows better engagement rates for smaller “micro-influencers” than those with a large following. Analyze your existing and potential customers behaviors and interests to create your influencer marketing strategy.
4. Personalization makes a difference
There’s no denying it — personalization drives growth, customer loyalty, and efficient marketing spend. When marketers employ personalization initiatives, they are delivering tailored and specific messages to consumers based on their behavior and interests, while improving the customer experience.
According to McKinsey, personalization efforts can lift revenue by 5 to 15 percent and increase marketing spend efficiency by 10 to 30 percent. So, where do you start? You can integrate personalization in many marketing tactics, from custom emails to ads. If you’re starting out in personalization, gather a team together to help you. You’ll need data to segment your audience, such as demographics, product interests, and buying behavior, but remember to abide by privacy regulations. Then, analyze the data and identify potential personalization efforts. Be creative and track your results.
5. Embrace data to improve your marketing results
Data, data, data. It’s collected everywhere across different areas of your life — from the amount of time you spend watching Netflix and Hulu and the types of movies and shows you watch, to search terms and previous site history.
In 2022 and the foreseeable future, marketers will continue to rely on data to inform their future decisions. One data source is not enough, either. Marketers will need to rely on many data sources for a holistic and comprehensive view of their various audiences to create personalized and engaging marketing content. A few data sources marketers utilize include transactional data, declared and inferred interests and preferences, and digital identities.
Without data, it’s guess work, and guess work may lead to inefficient marketing spend and low conversion. However, consumers are demanding more transparency and control over personal data collection — a challenge marketers will need to navigate in the future.
6. Privacy regulations pose challenges to marketers and advertisers
Understandably, consumers today desire control and transparency into the collection of their personal data. Companies have been exposed for improper usage and sale of customer data and cyber attacks aimed to collect confidential consumer data continue to rise. We’re now in the era of data privacy.
Most recently, Apple and Google declared their commitment to consumer privacy. In Apple’s recent iOS updates, users can decide whether or not they want an app to track their activity across other apps and websites, view privacy reports, and regain control into their email by hiding IP addresses and preventing senders from viewing open rate metrics. By the end of 2022, Google will block third-party cookies in its web browser — impacting remarketing efforts.
What does this mean for marketers? We have an interesting and challenging road ahead of us. It’s imperative that we evaluate our reliance on cookies and consumer data in our current marketing strategies and be proactive. Research zero party data — information collected voluntarily and directly from consumers — to avoid disruptions in the future.
7. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies improve experiences and reduce costs
AI technologies are growing in importance and adoption, especially in the era of personalization. They continually “learn” about user behavior to improve and personalize experiences, while simultaneously creating cost and time efficiencies for marketers.
A few examples of AI technology include chatbots, predictive analytics, and retargeting. Marketers utilize these technologies to personalize individual channel experiences, enhance the overall customer journey, automate customer interactions, and drive next best actions. AI technologies provide marketers with economies of scale — such systems collect, interpret, and analyze data that would otherwise take hours, if not days, to complete manually.
8. Team collaboration has changed
With the abrupt transition to remote work, and now two years into the pandemic, marketers learned that they can work from anywhere. Studies and reports state that businesses must reevaluate the workplace to meet the new expectations of today’s employees — or, they’ll see a “Great Resignation” of their own.
In a recent Salesforce State of Marketing report, marketers do not feel disconnected from their colleagues in a remote environment. In fact, 75% say the pandemic permanently shifted how they collaborate and communicate at work — feeling more connected to their managers, peers, and customers overall.
How are marketers collaborating in this new environment? Video conferencing and channel-based communication. If you and your team aren’t currently using these technologies, consider exploring these options.
9. Video marketing was a trend — now, it’s essential
As a marketer, you’ve seen video marketing land on almost every yearly digital marketing trends blog for, well, years. Here we are again, but video marketing has changed.
Previously, marketers were told to integrate videos into their marketing rather than static photos. However, it’s not enough to pull a stock video from a gallery and integrate it into your campaigns — your videos should tell a story, create impact, and engage your audience (also in a personalized way). Additionally, there are many more video channels today than there were years ago. Marketers must consider the plethora of video channels available — YouTube, LinkedIn Video, Instagram Live, TV, Reels, TikTok, Facebook Live, Virtual Reality, and much more.
Is your head spinning yet? Rather than looking at the mountain, focus on the steps. Who are your existing and new customers? How much time do they spend on social media platforms? What videos do they watch and on what channels? Don’t try to market on every channel — focus on what makes sense for your customers. With this information, you can integrate video marketing into your marketing strategies.
10. Your brand values matter — leverage story marketing
The pandemic abruptly transformed our lives — both individually and as a society. It gave us time to pause and reflect while working through numerous anxieties and uncertainties. During this time, we witnessed historical social, political, and economic change. Ultimately, and to no surprise, the pandemic changed us — and it changed consumer behavior and values.
Consumers today, especially in younger generations, will choose brands that open or continue conversations and make a difference on social issues, climate change, and more. According to a 2020 report, 83% of millennial consumers prioritize buying from brands that align with their beliefs and values. In fact, 66% have boycotted brands they’ve previously purchased from because the brands’ position on an issue did not align with their individual beliefs.
Marketers know the importance of storytelling. Throughout history, all cultures utilized storytelling in a variety of forms to communicate, connect, and inspire. In 2022 and beyond, digital marketers must understand the impact of stories and what this means for a brand — especially in light of the pandemic’s impact on evolving consumer behavior. Story marketing can humanize, create emotional connections, and communicate a brand’s values, culture and corporate social responsibility. Studies show that recall improves through stories and these emotional connections drive brand loyalty.
11. Audio advertising continues to grow
When you listen to music, news, or podcasts, what channel(s) do you use? Maybe you use Spotify for podcasts, Pandora for study or work music, and Sirius XM radio during your commute — all considered digital streaming platforms.
Compared to traditional radio, internet-based streaming service users continue to grow and account for close to $600 million in revenue in the U.S, according to Statista. Additionally, online audio is expected to be the most under-invested media in the U.S. with a lot of potential. What does this mean for digital marketers? Integrating audio advertising in your marketing strategy can increase your reach to new or existing audiences and potential customers, as well as enhance brand recognition when combined with other marketing efforts.
Bottom line: there are many channels for audio consumption, which means many delivery options for digital marketers to consider with audio advertising. Evaluate each platform and test, test, test.
12. Content marketing is still king
No surprises here — content marketing will continue to remain top of mind for marketing professionals in 2022. Content provides answers to both your existing customers and potential new customers, creates loyalty and brand awareness, as well as improving retention. It drives consumers through the various stages of the marketing funnel: from awareness and evaluation to conversion.
We’ve touched on a few marketing tactics that fall under the umbrella of content marketing. However, everything we produce is content in one form or another. This year, as you revisit, shift, and improve your strategy, remember these content marketing trends:
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This content was originally published here.